Friday morning, returning from a memorial service (not funny), trudging up the stairs with a heavy heart, I get to the top, open the door, and there are my kids, blocking my way.
“You can’t come in!”
“No no no, please, you can’t come in!! Go away!”
Seriously? So I asked if I could at least change my clothes before I took off to go who-knows-where, and they conceded, half-covering my eyes as I walked to my bedroom (don’t know if you can picture that, but it was a bit of a difficult walk) So I change my clothes, grab my purse back up, and head out the door.
“How long do I have to stay gone?” They gave me an hour, so I said ok, got in the car and left.
An hour later, I tried to go back home…. “NOOO!!!! You can’t come in!!! Go back away!!”
Alrighty then. How long this time? “Until four. You can’t come back til four!”
By now I was thinking, “Well, it’s Mother’s Day weekend… maybe they’re cleaning the house! I mean, that would be pretty typical of them… how sweet!”
I’ll spare you the details of the next couple of hours of not knowing what to do with myself, and fast-forward to four o-clock.
I pull in, walk up the stairs, and open the door, expecting the fragrant smell and brightness of a freshly cleaned house, ready to be all surprised, and thankful, showering praise on my dear, sweet, kind-hearted children…
And… SURPRISE!! A cloud of smoke hits me full in the face, filling my nostrils, burning my eyes… I panic, turn the corner, and stop: There are pots, pans, muffin tins, egg carton, flour, if you can just picture it…. It looks like my cabinets, pantry, and fridge all threw up. On the counter was my laptop (thankfully unscathed), with a looping instructional video on how to make cupcakes. And there, standing in the middle of the cloud of smoke, wide-eyed, beater and bowl in hand, were my ten-year old daughter and twelve-year old son.
Turns out, the entire time I was gone, they had been attempting to make a batch of cupcakes. Since they couldn’t find the baking powder, they had substituted baking soda… overfilled the cupcake tins… and filled the oven with burnt cupcake batter. I had arrived in the middle of their second attempt at edible cupcakes (yes, they were going to try again!)
I walked over to look inside the mixing bowl, and it looked a little curdled. I asked, “What in the world??” And my son says, “Oh, we ran out of vanilla, so we used mint extract instead!” Big grin!
At this point, I had to walk out. I said something about not being able to breathe and went out onto the back porch to compose myself. “It’s the thought that counts…. it’s the thought that counts…. they love their momma, so they are cooking for you…. just breathe….be nice… laugh…. all is well, the house is still standing, and nobody is dead. Be thankful. Just be thankful… ”
Now I’m sure many of you moms would have waltzed in, laughed, hugged them all, put on an apron and said, “Here, let me help you!” And I really, really wanted to be that mom…. But here’s what was really going through my head…
“I told them before I left for the funeral NOT to use the stove… they could have burnt the house down with themselves in it! Oh dear Lord…. And I really, REALLY needed to clean my house today so that I could just enjoy the weekend, but instead I spent four hours doing nothing important while they made even more of a huge GIGANTIC mess in the house that I am sure to have to clean up! And now, I am leaving, and no chance to clean, so guess what I get to do tomorrow??”
I finally went back inside, and my initial facial expression must have said more than I meant for it to, because they had already cleaned up half the mess and put the new batter into the oven. I didn’t say anything… just smiled weakly and went and began to prepare for the evening.
Finally, I was able to muster a response. I looked at both of them and said, “Ok, so I know Mommy probably looked horrified when I came in the house. I wasn’t horrified, I was TERRIFIED – terrified that the house was burning down with my children in it!” Thankfully, they found this funny, and I was able to explain to them that I need them to NOT turn on a gas stove when I am gone, because I really, REALLY, want to come home to my children safe and sound.
(And in case anyone thinks I am a terribly irresponsible mother who leaves her ten and twelve year old for hours at a time… my thirteen year old was home the entire time, and kept interjecting “I told you so’s” as I was speaking…)
The second batch of cupcakes finally came out of the oven, and they were, surprisingly, light and fluffy, albeit VERY minty….
(This is not a spider… it says Mom)
I spoke to my mom later on that day and said, “What am I teaching these kids? Apparently, they have learned that I value cupcakes more than a clean house!! Aiy-yi-yi!”
Her response? “Nah, it’s just more fun to cook than to clean!” 😉
Of course, my children made me Mother’s Day cards, and of course they did NOT clean up the pots and pans as they promised… but we went out last night anyway and had a lovely time downtown, just being silly together. My twelve year-old little man insisted on buying his momma a bracelet for Mother’s Day, and they all got up this morning and cooked breakfast, complete with a pretty table, flowers in the middle, and the cupcakes arranged nicely around them. 😉
So yes, my house is still messy… my kitchen is still a wreck… but I just don’t care today. Because my mess means that I have a beautiful life – and my heart is full.